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Smuggler's paths between Germany and the Netherlands – cycling the Smokkelroute

Michael G

Smuggler's paths between Germany and the Netherlands – cycling the Smokkelroute

Bike Touring Collection by Sebastian Gliem

3

Tours

09:57 h

103 mi

1,050 ft

The circular Smokkelroute from Dörpen in Lower Saxony through Ter Apel and Bellingwolde may be almost entirely flat, but it has a lot to offer. You ride 167 kilometres (103 mi) through the region of Emsland in Germany and the Dutch province of Groningen. Although there are only 320 metres (1,050 feet) of elevation gain along the route, there are plenty of exciting highlights, delicious food, rivers, canals and lakes. I prefer to call this adventure the ‘Smokkelroute Pleasure Tour’.

Together with its sister trail, the Pioneer Route, the Smokkelroute makes up the United Countries Tour. This 600-kilometre (372 mi) network of cycle paths leads through the Emsland, the County of Bentheim and the regions of Groningen and Drenthe, connecting the beautiful landscapes, buildings and history on either side of the border. The Smokkelroute translates to ‘smuggling route’ and the adventure follows old smuggling paths across the border, waymarking trails that were once secret. The entire Smokkelroute is signposted with a yellow ‘United Countries Tour’ sign.

I have divided the route into three stages so that you have enough time to visit the many sights and highlights along the way. I chose the small town of Dörpen as the starting point, because it is very easy to reach by train (RE 15 from Münster to Emden). The first stage leads you from Dörpen to Ter Apel, where you can stay overnight in a hotel, inn or bed & breakfast. Accommodation is easy to find at the end of the second stage in Bellingwolde too.

You won't have to climb more than 130 metres (426 feet) per day and most of the stages run through nature or along rivers and canals.

I wish you a lot of fun on this adventure. A small tip: If you see ‘Appelgebak met Slagroom’ on the menu in a Dutch café, order it with your coffee – it’s delicious!

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    03:20
    34.9 mi
    10.5 mph
    450 ft
    375 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The first day on the Smokkel route is ahead of you and thus almost 58 kilometers in the saddle. A varied route with exciting highlights awaits you on the way between Dörpen and the Dutch town of Ter Apel. And that without exhausting climbs.The stage starts at Dörpen train station and leads you through the village until you are …

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  • Intermediate
    02:54
    30.3 mi
    10.4 mph
    275 ft
    350 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    On the second stage of the Smokkelroute you will stay in the Netherlands all day. The route from Ter Apel to Bellingwolde takes you almost 50 kilometers. As with the first stage, you can pedal effortlessly here, because you won't find any climbs in this flat region.Depending on your choice of accommodation, you start the day somewhere in Ter …

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  • Intermediate
    03:43
    38.2 mi
    10.3 mph
    325 ft
    275 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The third stage on the Smokkel route brings you back to Germany. On the almost 62 kilometers between the beautiful town of Bellingwolde in the Dutch province of Groningen and your destination Dörpen, as before, you have no inclines to conquer and you can cycle relaxed through the flat landscape.Immediately after starting in Bellingwolde you cross the Tijde Canal. …

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    3
  • Distance
    103 mi
  • Duration
    09:57 h
  • Elevation
    1,050 ft

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Smuggler's paths between Germany and the Netherlands – cycling the Smokkelroute

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